Dr. Benjamin Jin, a biologist working on immunotherapy for HPV+ cancers, holds test tubes as he works in the lab of Dr. Christian Hinrichs, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, February 7, 2018.
Experimental trials are ongoing at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a US government-funded research hospital where doctors are trying to partially replace patients' immune systems with T-cells that would specifically attack cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. A person's T-cells will naturally try to kill off any invader, including cancer, but usually fall short because tumors can mutate, hide, or simply overpower the immune system.
Immunotherapies that have seen widespread success, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapies, mainly target blood cancers like lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia, which have a tumor antigen -- like a flag or a signal -- on the surface of the cells so it is easy for immune cells to find and target the harmful cells. But many common cancers lack this clear, surface signal. Hinrichs' approach focuses on HPV tumors because they contain viral antigens that the immune system can easily recognize.
 / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
What you should do to prevent HPV
02:27 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, known as ACIP, voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend HPV vaccines for both boys and girls and men and women through age 26.

Previously the CDC recommended that teen girls and young women who had not been adequately vaccinated receive the human papillomavirus vaccine through age 26, but the recommendation for teen boys and young men only went through age 21. The CDC’s recommendation that children start receiving two doses of the HPV vaccine around 11 or 12 years old has not changed.

In a 10-4 vote, the committee also recommended adults ages 27 through 45 who had not been adequately vaccinated make shared decisions with their doctors about getting vaccinated. Adults older than 45 who had not been vaccinated are not advised to do so, since HPV vaccines are not licensed for use in that age group.

The ACIP recommendations won’t be official until they’re approved by the CDC director.

The votes were made during a meeting at the CDC in Atlanta. The committee holds three meetings every year to review the most recent scientific data and vote on making possible updates to vaccine recommendations.

Several mothers and anti-vaccination advocates spoke out against vaccines during the public comment portion of the meeting, referencing concerns around vaccine safety and potential harms.

Following the vote, Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, praised the ACIP decision in a written statement.

“Today’s decision from ACIP emphasizes what the data has shown – that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective for use in patients ages 27 to 45, and that use of the vaccine in this age group should be the result of shared decision-making between patients and their trusted physicians,” Zahn said.

The recommendations for catch-up vaccinations to extend through age 26 “should match” between men and women, Dr. Anna-Barbara Moscicki, division chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at UCLA Health and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an email.

“The simpler the better,” Moscicki, who was not involved in the ACIP meeting, said in the email.

HPV infection can lead to cancer

Human papillomavirus or HPV is a group of more than 200 related viruses, which can spread through sexual contact. In some cases, HPV infection can lead to six types of cancer: cervical, anal, penile, vaginal, vulvar and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat).

In the United States, high-risk HPV infections cause about 3% of all cancers in women and 2% in men, according to the National Cancer Institute.